More gelatinous than your grandma’s pudding, the blobfish’s strikingly jiggly appearance has captivated the attention of millions over the past several years. So unmistakable is the finned jello mold that it was deemed the world’s ugliest animal in 2013. Why such a flabby appearance? As the blowfish calls the high water-pressured bottom of the ocean home, its skin has become about as dense as water over time.
You might think that the blobfish’s lack of muscle tissue would prove disadvantageous, but you’d be wrong. Imagine a world in which all you had to do to enjoy a fantastic meal was open your mouth and let gravity do its trick.
For the blobfish, such a sweet dream is a daily reality. When it comes time to feast, the blobfish’s lack of density means that it doesn’t have to expend any energy in order to eat. Instead, it simply opens its mouth and floats about, noshing on any sea critters that enter its path. Nice life.
Consider the fangtooth fish the underwater equivalent of a supposedly menacing pitbull with a heart of gold. Despite its threatening appearance, the fangtooth is incredibly benign–especially as its poor eyesight means that if the fangtooth wants to make like a predator and hunt, it quite literally has to bump into its prey in order to find it.
The fangtooth’s chompers certainly paint a different portrait, though. An orthodontist’s worst nightmare, the fangtooth has the largest teeth of any fish in the ocean relative to its actual size. Good luck catching a glimpse of the sharp-mouthed animal with your own eyes: the fangtooth resides as far as 16,400 feet beneath the sea. For comparison’s sake, that’s about the length of 55 consecutive American football fields.
The continued existence of these icky echinoderms is somewhat mind boggling. Lacking a true brain and any semblance of sensory organs, the sea cucumber is endowed with the same mental capacity as the food for which it is named. Nevertheless, the colorful cuke constitutes a vital part of the oceanic ecosystem, as it breaks down detritus and recycles any and all nutrients that come its way.
Unlike the cucumbers we like to put over our eyes and into our salads, the sea cucumber is incredibly flexible due to its collagen levels. For instance, if the sea cucumber needs to wedge itself into a tiny crevice, its collagen will loosen and the sea cucumber will effectively liquefy itself to seep into its desired locale.
When situations get truly dire, sea cucumbers can also engage in self mutilation by violently contracting their muscles and expelling some of their internal organs out through their anus to ward off predators. Don’t try this at home the next time you have an unwanted guest, though; unlike sea cucumbers, your internal organs won’t grow back.
Deemed by some scientists as a “living fossil” and tragically overshadowed in pop culture by its flashier shark counterparts, the goblin shark leads a relatively mysterious existence deep below the ocean blue. The only extant survivor of a 125 million-year old family of sharks, the goblin is truly unique…and ugly. But apart from its most salient features (re: its long, flattened snout, protruding jaws and claw-like teeth), the goblin is relatively unremarkable.
Most scientists speculate that in the underwater world, the goblin shark plays the role of elderly next-door neighbor. Why? Just like your elderly neighbor, the goblin shark’s general flabbiness conveys the fact that it’s not exactly moving around that much, and further, that it doesn’t even need to in order to survive.
Unlike your elderly next-door neighbor, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll ever see a goblin shark in your lifetime. While they were discovered in the 19th century, goblin sharks are incredibly rare and prefer to confine themselves to the ocean’s lower depths–not the public eye. In fact, when one was brought to an aquarium in Japan a few years ago, it died soon after.